Time vs. money
While my daughter was young, I worked part-time. I was also living on government support to supplement my income; I was as poor as the proverbial church mouse, but happy. I had time to be creative, to cook, to read, to study, to write. I lived a very simple life and I enjoyed it immensely. My time was my own. I chose how I used it and in what capacity. Being a mother, and having the time to enjoy motherhood and the freedom it brought, was a wonderful gift.
It has only been in the last five or so years that I have moved into full-time work. And while I like the money it brings, I also vaguely resent the amount of time it takes up; time that could be spent doing other, more self-actualising things.
And I have found this to be even more so with the move to my new job. Because my time is taken up learning the ropes, and the politics of how things work and how to get things done, I am depleted at the end of the day. I don’t have time – or let’s be honest, the energy – to follow the creative pursuits I was eagerly engaging in a few short weeks ago. This will change of course, as I become more accustomed to the role, but until that happens, my time is not really my own.
That’s not to say that I’m not grateful for my paid work. I am. Very much so. I have peace of mind and quality of life: I don’t worry about bills when they come in; I eat out whenever I want; I can take self-development courses whenever I choose (I’ve recently enrolled in another term of photography); and I go on an overseas trip once a year without really having to worry about the cost.
But the true cost is my time. Or lack of it, and this is noticeable in the winter, when the days are short and dark, and time becomes an even more sought after commodity. Maybe I’m just undisciplined. I hear stories of women raising three children under four, running their own businesses and juggling the writing of best-selling novels. I wish I could be like that, but I can’t be always switched on, always on the go, always doing something. I like time out. To do absolutely nothing, sometimes. I like to spread the things I like to do across my days, to choose my activities on a whim, rather than be compelled by some inner demon urging me onwards and upwards.
But unless I win X-Lotto, the reality I face is this: more time equals less money; more money equals less time.
Now all I have to do is come to terms with my curious version of work-life balance.
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